If your MIDI keyboard skills are anything like mine, it probably takes you a few tries before you can play a riff in the same key as another loop. Fortunately, you can cheat a bit by using Ableton’s Scale plug-in. Drop a scale preset — in this case, “Major” — onto a MIDI track, then turn the “Base” knob to the key in which you want to play.

Here’s me playing along to a string loop in D Major without the scale plug-in:

Play a simple piano line.

That sounds horrible. Let’s try it with the Scale plug-in turned on:

Add the scale plugin and tune it to D major.

It’s not instant musical talent, but if — like me — the first thing you do when you sit down at the keyboard is figure out which one is middle C, it can save you a lot of time.

Ableton includes presets for the most popular scales; if you want to add more, download the chord and scale pack from the Covert Operators, which includes  everything from the Romanian Minor to the Super Locrian.


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